You may know the feeling. You're in a large group, you have to make a call, or you've been made the center of some pretty unwanted attention. If you're one of the 10% of teenagers (or 40% of adults) who suffer from an anxiety disorder, day to day social interactions can feel like you've been asked to walk a mile of hot coals. Fortunately for you, we know those feels, too. Here are 7 facts about anxiety that are weirdly interesting and will help you feel a bit better.
1) Anxiety isn't just mental, it's physical too.
You probably know what it feels like to find yourself in the middle of an anxiety attack. Your heart races, you may sweat, you might feel dizzy. As it turns out, treating the symptoms of your anxiety attack may help manage the attack in general. "Just take a deep breath" may be the most cliche saying but, often times, when people are tense or anxious, they hold their breath without even realizing it--hence that feeling of breathlessness and dizziness. Paying attention to your breathing (and making sure you're inhaling and exhaling properly) is the perfect way to calm down--even if it sounds basic as hell.
2) Music! Music! Music!
It's been proven that music is an amazing stress and anxiety reliever. You probably already suspected this but now you have science on your side to back it up. Slow, Classical music can lower your stress hormones and blood pressure. Good thing we've published an anxiety busting playlist for you.
3) Smelling nice smells can help reduce anxiety.
Studies have shown that, when you're feeling particularly anxious, your sense of smell can get seriously messed up. Studies have also shown that aromatherapy (and just generally being around nice smells) can be super relaxing and anxiety reducing. Have a smell you love? A perfume that reminds you of your favourite grandmother, a scent that you associate with happy times? Keep it around. Obviously if your "happy times" scent is mac n' cheese, that might be hard to replicate. But, say you grew up around a nice mother who always smelled of vanilla. Carrying that around or having access to that scent can be a super simple way of calming yourself down.
4) Okay I know we hate exercise but...
Exercise is an extremely effective way to reduce anxiety. In fact, just 20 minutes of exercise can lower your anxiety levels almost immediately. When you exercise, your body releases endorphines. Endorphines react to stress and pain in the body, which is exactly what your anxiety runs off of. Stress. Sorry guys. Looks like a trip to the gym may be in order.
5) Are you scared to get help?
Don't worry, you're not alone. According to an ADAA survey, 36% of people with a social anxiety disorder lived with the disorder for a decade before seeking help. If you haven't gotten help yet or are afraid to, don't worry. You're not alone.
6) Want to play a game?
So there is a general theme of letting your mind be distracted as an efficient way of tackling anxiety. Well, it seems game developers have clocked on to that too. Mic.com has a really great list of games that are especially designed for kicking your anxiety's ass--like "Elude". "In Elude, you explore a series of metaphorical emotional landscapes, moving through eerie woods and airy fields looking for "passion objects" to help overcome emotional obstacles." - Mic.com
7) Do you ever feel like your anxiety affects your relationships?
That's pretty normal. People with anxiety disorders tend to examine facial expression more carefully than less anxious people. You may see a facial expression, interpret it in a different way, and jump to the wrong conclusion. It doesn't make you erratic or "hard to deal with". It just means you notice and feel things more acutely. Don't beat yourself up if you feel like your anxiety is getting in the way of your friendships and relationships. Communication is so important. Talk it out, boo!